It’s easy to look at the advancements for female athletes in the 21st century and think we’ve made great progress. The improvements have occurred, but strong perceptions remain that can direct girls away from athletics. This is especially true at an early age, when adults shape their ideas for what is possible. My older daughter is just shy of five, and she’s asking countless questions about the world. What she learns now is going to stick with her for years to come. This discussion sits in the background of The Pink Helmet Posse, a nine-minute short film by Kristelle Laroche and Ben Mullinkosson. The story centers on three six-year-old girls that love skateboarding, but the directors slip in a few statistics that show the key message. The endearing trio loves this activity, but mainstream society may not encourage it.
Paired at Hot Docs with Songs for Alexis, this charming film introduces us to skateboarding fanatics Rella (Relz), Bella, and Sierra. They wear pink and have brightly colored rooms that resemble those of other girls their age. The boys at the park may give them a little trouble, but their skills are unquestionable. Watching them glide through a large half pipe is stunning and hardly easy for kids twice their age. They still cry after a bad fall and run from bees, yet there’s a toughness that’s hard to teach. The parents are supportive, and one dad looks like the type of guy that would love to see his daughter at the skate park. They only appear briefly, but their role in encouraging the girls can’t be understated.
The Pink Helmet Posse’s official website is surprising because it’s so focused on selling merchandise. That very commercial approach doesn’t negate the inspiration from the film, but it’s interesting to see a different side of the tale. They also have an Instagram account to track their exploits with more than 3,800 followers. The website’s message includes this statement: “We know it can be intimidating, but we’re here to show you that skateboarding is not just for boys.” It’s impossible to argue with that point, and the film provides a good introduction to the girls behind the page. They definitely love skating, and that’s the most important part of any activity for six-year-olds.
It would be interesting to check in with Relz, Bella, and Sierra down the road and see if they continue the pursuit. Their ultimate goal is the X Games, which has quite a gender disparity. I hope that whatever my two girls decide to do, they have the same excitement about it. This short film gives us a peek at the future, which I hope will have the same forward-thinking attitude. We aren’t there yet, but every small step knocks down another barrier towards more gender equality on every stage.
Wednesday, April 30, 9:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thursday, May 1, 8:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Friday, May 2, 7:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre